Landau, James James.Landau at NGC.COM
Mon Apr 10 12:09:38 UTC 2006

Joel S. Berson [Berson at ATT.NET] quoted:

> From

>The vintage Arkansas Traveler is said to have originated in the
Connecticut Valley 
>around 1860 where it got its name from a peddler who "hawked" his
merchandise up and 
>down the valley while telling everyone he came from Arkansas. The dance
was dedicated to 
>this peddler.
>-- The Arkansas traveller was basically a barn dance that had twice the
number of calls 
>as the other dances of the time to symbolize the peddlers travels.
During this time the 
>waltz was virtually unknown to the peasant dancers. The Arkansas
Traveler is also known 
>as The Essence of Old Virginia.

It is strange to see US rural people referred to as "peasants".  

The term "peasant" generally refers to a hereditary caste of rural small
farmers in Europe.  There is no such caste in the US, the closest thing
being "sharecroppers", who were a post-Civil War development, being rare
to nonexistent around 1860 (MWCD10 gives the surprisingly late date of
1923 for "sharecropper").

      - James A. Landau

The American Dialect Society -

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